Jillian Williams is a 20-year-old woman who is cheerful, charming and has a passion for life. She led a completely normal and happy life with her family in Texas. With her striking appearance, Jillian competed in beauty pageants, was a cheerleader and played college volleyball.
In September 2016, she started to experience some problems in her knee while playing volleyball at a college tournament. At first she wasn’t concerned, thinking it was most likely tendinitis or over-usage. But when the pain didn’t go away, she decided to visit an orthopedic surgeon. After several examinations, MRI scans and x-rays at the hospital, she was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma — a rare type of bone cancer.
The young woman and her family were in shock. But the tumor was growing quickly and in a space of two months the bone cyst had grown an inch, which meant Jillian had to act quickly.
The doctors offered Jillian several options. She could have chosen to salvage her limb by simply getting the tumor removed, but from the people she had met and the research she had done she knew that there was a higher relapse rate, which she didn’t want. So Jillian chose the less risky alternative — a rotationplasty. The surgeons removed 14 inches of the middle portion of her leg, rotated her bottom half 180 degrees, and reattached it to where they had amputated. Her prosthetic then slides on her foot and a strap goes over her heal to keep it in place.
Despite everything she has been through, Jillian has remained the bright, positive and bubbly person she’s always been and has embraced her new situation wholeheartedly. Her motto in life is: “I want to make a difference by being different.”
The transition from an athletic, Texan beauty queen to a cancer patient and amputee was a big adjustment for her and is not always easy to deal with, especially coping with other people’s reaction to her new appearance: “A lot of people tend to shy away because they’re scared, ‘Why does she look like that? Why is she bald? Is she crazy?'”
Fortunately this incident hasn’t changed any of Jillian’s life’s goals. She wants to compete again for Miss Texas, and also wants to play Paralympic volleyball.
You can find out more about Jillian’s story in this video:
What an admirable, positive and bright young woman! Despite the hardships Jillian has faced at such a young, tender age, she keeps on smiling, and is determined to follow her dreams. We can only admire and learn from such a beautiful person, both inside and out!